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The 10 Keys To E-Commerce Success (By Phil Foster)

1. People tend to click more often when specifically told to do so.
CLICK HERE to download the secret to my success! No, really. Please... One day when talking to a friend of mine through removing some spyware from his computer, I asked how he thought he got it. "I don't know..." he quickly replied..."I guess I clicked on something that told me to click on it."... I do recall reading somewhere that 10% of us turn our brains off when we get online. If you want someone to buy something, don't just tell them to buy it, tell them exactly how to buy it.

2. Most people can't remember more than seven things at once
There is a reason US phone numbers are 7 digits long - 10 if you include the area code... Humans are pattern driven creatures. We like 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 4 weeks in a month, 12 months in a year... and so on. The more patterns we make as humans, the more our mind can relate different things. However, for the most of us, the patterns cannot be too complex. Don't confuse your customers. Give them details. Allow them to form the pattern in their mind. Then tell them to buy your product.

3. Research shows that web readers scan pages before they read anything, meaning they may leave your site if it doesn't grab their attention.
In the dial up days, I used to tell people they had 30 seconds to make an impression on a visitor. Now, it's a micro-fraction of that. The latest study indicated that a website had 3 seconds to deliver the content to the user, and that a user would make up their minds within 1 second. 1/2 second if that user was a female - seriously. It's what I call the "ummm". A site loads, a user says, "Ummm..." and that's followed by a "yes" or a "no". As soon as that scan is done with, the user knows if they feel comfortable on your site. If you use highlighting and bolding of keywords on your site - say about 7 of them per fold - and you tell the customer what to do within those 7 highlighted or bolded words... your site has more of a chance of converting a visitor into a customer.

4. Most buyers complete their purchase-related search engine research two or more weeks before they buy.
Two weeks. 14 days. 2 sets of 7 days. If your site doesn't make a lasting impression with the user - even visually - they won't be back. And if they don't come back, you don't make the sale.

Not too long ago, I was doing some reasearch on a particular subject. I had found a very good source, and shared it with a colleague of mine. About two weeks later, we were discussing the subject again. I hadn't book marked the page, and couldn't recall the name of the site. What I did recall was the pattern of the layout. I remembered the red and blue colors, with the yellow highlighted price. When I again found that pattern, I recalled more information about that website.

Had that site not grabbed my attention, and given me a few key items to remember, they would have lost a sale. Needless to say, they got my business.

5. People are more likely to read a headline that is followed by a blurb
This week I was driving by a steak house. I thought, "yeah.. I might like a steak tonight... but, there are some other restraunts on this road..." As I got closer to the steak house, the smell of that wood burning grill assaulted my senses... "Wow, I gotta have a steak, right now!" Was my next thought.... What changed my mind? The blurb after the headline. The restraunt itself wasn't enough to get the sale - but those guys aren't fools - they know how to get a customer in the door. The same holds true for any attention grabbing headline - without any more information, it's just a headline. Without that smell, a steak is just a piece of dead cow.

6. The top five search terms of all time are: Pam Anderson, Dragonball, Pokemon, Britney Spears, and WWE
To me, knowing what people are looking for is key. It's how you found this site. It's why you're reading, or listening to me right now. But knowing those top 5 search terms also tells me that I'm going to have to be creative with my headlines, give my customers good, memorable information that doesn't overwhelm them, and give them clear instructions on what to do on my site.

7. The three-click rule states that any page in a site should be accessible in three clicks
You've heard me say it before - A confused mind always says "No". So does a bored one. We're living in the Information Management age. If you can't give your customers what they want in a quick and easy fashion, you won't have a customer to worry about. A few years back there was a big lawsuit between two major .com's about the concept of the "one click checkout"... why? Because they knew then what I am telling you now. You have to make it easy. Easy to use. Easy to attract. Easy to remember. Easy to understand. Easy.

8. The average user will click 12 times before leaving a site
We all want above average users on our websites, right? I know I do. If the average user clicks 12 times on a website, and any page should be no more than 3 clicks away, you can safely reason that a visitor will visit 3 or 4 pages of your website. Without your site being easy, attractive, memorable, and clear... you'll just lose that visitor. When you have some time, take the grocery store poll. It's a fun one. Go into several different grocery stores in your town. Make note of where the milk is located. Chances are, you'll find the milk in the back corner. Not the easiest place to get to. You have to walk past all that other stuff. Then you have to walk past all that stuff again on your way out. Chances are pretty high that you'll pick something up on the way to or from the milk before you check out. The exact same principle holds true for e-commerce. If you present your visitor with something to purchase on each page, chances are very high that those 12 clicks will lead to a sale.

9. Saturdays and Wednesdays are the most popular day of the week to surf the Web
These are the two days that you want your email to land in your newsreaders inbox. It's the two days you want to test market a new sales item. It's the two days you should do whatever it takes to double your daily e-commerce income. Not to say you can slack off the other days.... it's just important to know when the customers are out there. Your logs might indicate that you have higher traffic on other days, but generally speaking, Saturdays and Wednesdays are prime.

10. Twenty percent of Americans admit to buying products they learned about in E-Mail
Proper email marketing works. If you have the users permission to send them a commercially based email, and that email arrives in their inbox on a Wednesday or Saturday, with an attention grabbing headline followed by a well written blurb that doesn't confuse them, yet tells them exactly what to do - chances are high that you'll see a good return on that email.

Some time last year, an associate and I decided to publish a sales report. This report was the result of several months worth of work, and could have been considered a little edgy by some. Our e-mail blast went out on a Friday night, so that it would be sitting in peoples in-boxes on Saturday. The initial email was written quite well, and was a very honest, memorable, clear, and direct message. Sales of our report started Friday night. They did not end until six weeks later. In fact, I can ammend that date, as just two weeks ago we got another request for the report. Seems someone just got around to opening that email.

So, the 10 Keys to E-Commerce Success: Make it Direct. Make it Simple.Make it Grab their attention. Make it Memorable. Make it Meaningful. Make it Relative. Make is Easy. Make it Clear. Make it Timely. Make it Convenient. The one thing they all have in common: You have to make it.


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